At Salon, FPIF regular David Vine, author of a book published this summer titled Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World, writes about the Pentagon’s proposal to build yet more American bases in the Middle East.
Though this is being presented as a response to the rise of the Islamic State and other militant groups, there’s remarkably little that’s new about the Pentagon plan. For more than 36 years, the U.S. military has been building an unprecedented constellation of bases that stretches from Southern Europe and the Middle East to Africa and Southwest Asia.
As we now know,
U.S. bases have often helped generate the radical militancy that they are now being designed to defeat. The presence of U.S. bases and troops in Muslim holy lands was, in fact, a major recruiting tool for al-Qaeda and part of Osama bin Laden’s professed motivation for the 9/11 attacks.
Across the Middle East, there’s a correlation between a U.S. basing presence and al-Qaeda’s recruitment success.
And recently, the Islamic State’s success luring fighters to its lands. Yet one of the reasons for resentment against U.S. basing should resonate with American.s
Part of the anti-American anger that such bases stoke comes from the support they offer to repressive, undemocratic hosts. … U.S. bases offer legitimacy to hosts the Economist Democracy Index considers “authoritarian regimes,” effectively helping to block the spread of democracy in countries including Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
Many in the Middle East may be lukewarm about democracy, a Western concept, and might prefer more religious involvement in their governments. But it’s certainly the height of hypocrisy when the United States supports tyrannies that, were the tables turned, it would be the first to overthrow.